What can contemporary social scientists learn from ancient history? Key features of modern civilization began in the fertile crescent of today’s Middle East many thousands of years ago. Thanks to geography and other factors, these innovations spread—east and west. Not just agriculture and engineering but monotheistic religion and alphabetic writing took root there. Parallels to or offshoots of Sumerian culture emerged in the Indus River, Persia, and Egypt. Their distinctive ways of life took shape, waxed, and then waned.
Social scientists who try to keep up with a world in turmoil by listening to the BBC or reading Le Monde may be tempted to ask: “How did all this begin and where are we going?” The Singapore-based political analyst Parag Khanna answers: “Asia.” Civilization began in Western Asia and is now being shaped by “Asianization” of the planet. (See Khanna, The Future is Asian, 2019). Whether or not Khanna’s hypothesis about the future proves correct, the importance of Western Asia in global history is documented in the books Uruk and Mesopotamia.
Keywords: Uruk, Mesopotamia, Fertile Crescent, Asia, Civilization, Sumerian, Akkadian